Technique - Cocktail Party

A discussion format that encourages participants to interact with each other as if in a salon or other social setting. Try this in the morning by creating a coffee shop setting if you prefer.

Treat it as a Party

  • Arrange the room as you would for a party.
  • Create lots of open spaces and place chairs in conversational groupings of three to four students.
  • Set up one or two tables with an array of nonalcoholic drinks, finger foods, or hors d’oevres, and appropriate napkins, plates, and glasses.

Expect Your Guests to Talk About Serious Things

  • Instruct your guests to talk about the topics or issues you want them to explore.
  • Encourage them to mingle often and to engage with more than one group.
  • Move through the room as host or hostess, modeling the very conversations you are encouraging and introducing new topics or questions wherever appropriate.

This technique was adapted from Brookfield and Preskill, Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for a Democratic Classroom.